I believe Canada has been devastated by tax cuts and cuts to public services. We are at record lows in how much the Federal government collects in revenue as a percentage of GDP. We face huge challenges: Growing inequality is undermining our economy. Our social programs are being dismantled. Very few of those who are unemployed now qualify for Employment Insurance. Soon you will have to wait till you are 67 before collecting Old Age Security. Health transfers are due to be cut drastically. And climate change threatens our very survival. The Federal Government needs to raise more revenue in order to have the resources required to reduce income inequality, boost investments in social and physical infrastructure and tackle climate change. So when Canada’s Parliamentary Finance Committee asked for input on the next Federal Budget here is what Canadians for Tax Fairness told them:
Tax avoidance has become an accepted part of doing business for corporations the world over.
But it isn’t just Google, Starbucks and Amazon working the system. Canadian corporations like Cameco and Gildan use complex, opaque practices to shift profits into low or no-tax jurisdictions. Whether it is short term thinking or just plain greed, the result is the same. They reward a small group of shareholders rather than invest in the country that provides the stability, resources and workforce that makes their success possible in the first place.
Government budgets generally fail to impress me. No doubt this is the result of decades as an anti-poverty and fair tax advocate. But Ontario's proposed budget - the document that spurred an election and ended the leadership career of at least one politician - is different. It contains several items that are definitely steps in the right direction.
“Peace, order and good government” was the principle that John A. MacDonald espoused in 1867. Now, 147 years later, most of us still understand the role government has in a safe, caring country. That stability is what makes communities strong, healthy and able to meet challenges. It is a unique Canadian spirit that shapes this country. But we need money to invest in the services that help define us. And that’s why we need tax fairness.
Headlines this week declared Canadians “saving” $30 billion as a result of changes to personal income tax and the GST since 2005.